Smart work and smarter cities

Machinery on display as delegates arrived for the conference.

For 26 years, the construction industry and council bodies have met for the Municipal Works and Operations Association’s National Works and Engineering Conference. At this year’s event, the private and public sector explored the latest technology and best practice initiatives set to shape Melbourne’s urban roads.

The sun was out in September to match the yellow machinery on display as delegates arrived at the 26th National Works and Engineering Conference.

Set at the Prince of Wales Showgrounds in Bendigo, Victoria, the conference kicked off with an impressive display of machinery set at the front of the venue.

The two-day conference, dedicated to municipal works across Australia, demonstrated a push in the road construction industry to embrace new technologies and initiatives that improve worker and public safety.

With a strong focus on creating smart teams and even smarter cities, over 47 exhibitors brought their ideas and equipment, both big and small, to display to nearly four hundred delegates.

The City of Greater Bendigo’s Chris Rowlands opened the conference with an inspiring keynote looking at the ways to create a smart city, and the impact infrastructure has on a city’s functionality.

On day one, decorated former Australian rules footballer and four-time premiership coach David Parkin also ran through his tips for creating team motivation and cohesion.

Following Mr. Parkin’s presentation, Bridgeworks Owner Wayne Dyson, added his teamwork expertise detailing how companies can achieve success through cross-industry partnerships.

Steven Williams, Analytics and Innovation Manager at Komatsu, began a session on maintenance and operations by outlining the technical evolution of the yellow fleet in the 21st century.

He spoke about the power of data and intelligent machinery and the benefits of detecting machine failures before their eventuation.

The exhibition hall was home to 47 exhibitors.

Mr. Williams explained to audiences the concept of the PF curve, which outlines the point at which you can detect something is beginning to fail in a machine, and the point where the machine functionally fails.

“Our machines these days are very technologically advanced. We have got all of these sensors on board machines to ensure it is comfortable, productive and to get the different aspects of the machine to perform the task we need,” Mr. Williams said.

He said using technology to detect the first point in the PF curve, by turning the data from sensors into information, can reduce the frequency of human maintenance, avoiding increased costs through labour and productivity.

Frank Castle, Colac Otway Shire Council Manager of Services and Operations, followed with a presentation about the process of unsealed road maintenance in the council network.

Mr. Castle spoke of the importance of using available assets and following the correct templates and procedures to get the job finished on time and on budget, to a high quality.

He explained that Colac Otway Shire has 1050 kilometres of unsealed road on a diverse section of land.

“If we have a weekly meeting and discipline to follow templates, I can guarantee we will do all the right things. I can also guarantee if we don’t stick to those standards, work doesn’t run smoothly,” Mr. Castle said.

Downer’s explanation of its on-site safety and worker protection initiatives was presented by Stewart Billing, General Manager of Pavements and Graham Henderson, Business Development Manager.

The pair detailed Downer’s three strategies to achieve maximum on-site safety and highlighted the company’s continual improvement of its site safety policy.

Downer has three main safety focuses for site work being ‘Mission Impossible: Safe position is my mission’, ‘Mission Impossible Two: Control the roll’ and the final focus ‘Project Ben Hur’.

KOR’s Cap Combi drain cleaning unit on display outside.

Mr. Billing detailed the importance of Downer’s red zone, a 10-metre window in the possible direction of travel for any machine. The zone works to ensure on-site contractors are kept a safe position away from moving machinery.

“You have to do more and more in a business because you just never know when something bad is going to happen,” Mr. Billing said.

Mr. Henderson then explained the second initiative, ‘Control the roll’ which focuses on Downer’s standard for intervention braking systems. This automatically stops a machine before it hits an object or person.

Mr. Billing said ‘Project Ben Hur’ is Downer’s effort to increase the safety of workers in live traffic. The project arose after Downer found there was little compliance with slower speed limits from the public around its road worksites.

The company conducted three trials to reduce speed around worksites. It’s first trial installed speed radars showing driver speeds. The next trial spaced cones at half the required distance and the third created a virtual lane by putting cones on both sides of the road.

All of these items significantly increased compliance and are now implemented on Downer live traffic sites.

As a conference dedicated entirely to municipal works, councils featured heavily in presentations throughout the conference. Mornington Peninsula Shire presented its knowledge on costal erosion, Wyndham City Council detailed its capital works dashboard and the City of Greater Geelong looked at the increasing importance of cyber security.

In between information sessions, delegates visited the exhibition hall to converse with industry suppliers and learn about the latest technology and equipment on offer for road construction.

Exhibitors such as Komatsu, William Adams CAT, JCB Construction Equipment, KOR Equipment Solutions, DCS Manufacturing and Energy Safe Victoria, all had the chance to showcase their latest industry equipment best suited for municipal works.

Boral demonstrated its forward moving aggregate spreader for attendees.

Delegates had the opportunity to trial William Adams CAT next generation mini excavators for themselves, transferring dirt around on a field just metres away from the conference hall.

KOR demonstrated its Cap Combi drain cleaning unit for delegates to learn about its benefits when applied to municipal applications.

On the second day, Boral demonstrated how their latest innovation created with Secmair, the forward moving aggregate spreader works to increase safety on site by reducing the time machines are operating in reverse.

Inside the conference hall, Komatsu who were the main sponsor for the event had its newest grader the GD655-7 on show. The grader has been fitted to be compatible with 3D machine control options from third party suppliers, which shows the operator 3D site plans on a screen in the cabin.

Peter Ali, Interim CEO of the Municipal Works Operations Association brought the conference to an end, thanking speakers and attendees for a successful two days of networking and knowledge sharing.

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